VICE President Namadi Sambo has halted the apparent scheming of the contractor handling the construction of the NIPP Lot 4 330 KV sub-station at Ikot-Ekpene to return to site despite the termination of the contract by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company of Nigeria.
The management of the company terminated the contract last November based on alleged non-performance by the contractor six years after the contract was awarded.
However, the National Assembly, three weeks ago, made spirited efforts to rescue the contractor.
The Guardian learnt that Sambo, who chaired a recent meeting of the board of the Power Holding firm, endorsed the suspension placed on the defaulting contractor and gave approval for re-award of the job to a more competent firm, to ensure that the project makes remarkable progress before the rainy season starts.
This followed the report of another team sent to the site to verify the extent of work. The team reinforced three previous reports from the Federal Ministry of Power, the Presidential Task Force on Power and the Site Supervisor, which called for the sacking of the contractor for shoddy work.
The management team of the project disclosed that electricity coming from about six power plants in and around the region would be trapped due to late completion of the transmission substation.
The construction of Afam-Ikot Ekpene 330KV transmission lines and associated substations project Lot 4 comprises a 330KV switching station at Ikot Ekpene with 4 bays incoming 330KV double circuit transmission lines: Alaoji, Afam, Ikot Abasi and Odukpani and 2 outgoing 330KV double circuit transmission lines to Ugwuaji.
The contract was awarded to Messrs Paymabargh/Cartlark in 2006. The Lot comprises engineering, procurement and construction (EPC).
“The contract is six years running without completion of engineering, procurement and construction,” a source said.
It was learnt that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) might be invited to probe the contractor, as the presidency is considering treating the issue as economic sabotage.
The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) has also concluded plans to send its Engineering Regulations Monitoring (ERM) team from Akwa Ibom to visit the site and assess the level of non-compliance with engineering standards, probe the qualifications of the engineers on the payroll of the contractor and submit a report that may lead to the blacklisting of the firm, if found culpable.
The ERM is a statutory function of COREN. However, its execution includes and involves the whole engineering personnel, otherwise known as the Engineering Family, which comprises the engineers, technologists, technicians, and craftsmen.
Head of the COREN monitoring team in Akwa Ibom, Benjamin Ekanem, confirmed to newsmen that his team would look at the qualifications of the engineers involved in the project and would withdraw their certificates if they were found wanting in the execution of the job.
“It is a mandatory requirement for us to go into a site and demand the qualification of any engineer. We are going to invoke our powers to probe the contract,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Niger Delta Power Holding Company last week told the National Assembly that it would not reverse the revoking of the project and gave several reasons it feels the contractor should not return to site.
A source privy to the letter told The Guardian: “Arising from the site visit, it would appear difficult to reverse the termination of the contract, as you have advised, as no evidence is provided from the work done so to do.
“It should be noted that contrary to the earlier mistaken perception, all the field reports received from the site, copies of which were earlier sent to you, have not deviated from what we saw upon the visit.
“The EPC contractor’s commitment to complete the project in October 2012 is very much in doubt judging by the concern raised in the report.
“The EPC-Messrs Cartlark, in an effort to show accelerated work at the Ikot Ekpene substation after the notice of termination was issued by the client in November 2011, went ahead with site works without authorisation and without PC supervision. They failed to follow the appropriate procedure in carrying out the works done in that period.”
The source gave details of how the contractor defaulted: “It is to be noted that the site requires sand-filling with laterite to secure appropriate leveling. This sand-filling exercise, requiring volume of laterite of about 60,000m³, would have required compaction with appropriate equipment at various levels so as to secure appropriate firmness of the substation earthwork before proceeding with foundations and erection of gantries and equipment support structures.
“In the contract work schedule, gantry erection should only commence after completion of earth works and foundations. This erection work was expected to last only four weeks.
“The consequent erection of foundations, columns and equipment support structures, as has been done by the EPC without following this procedure, has introduced a number of complications.”
The source said that all work done so far without supervision would require appropriate non-destructive testing to ascertain quality checks before proceeding. “These tests will determine if some of the structure foundations may have to be demolished.”
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